Eight years ago, I traveled to Spain with my childhood friend, Deb Berecz, to visit her son, Jamie, who was spending a year as an exchange student there. Jamie was the consummate tour guide, already having mastered the language and the train system. It was one of the greatest weeks of my life and I fell in love with Europe. The history, the scenery, the wine, the people, the cathedrals, the food, the wine, the music, the culture, the olives, and... did I mention the wine?
Coming home on the plane, I knew I would return many times and I've been dreaming about it ever since. Italy and Greece are high on my list but being a lover of great food and wine, I fantasize next of visiting Provence... or living as Diane Lane did in Under the Tuscan Sun would be my ultimate dream.
I currently reside in a pretty little valley in Southern California with a charming Old Town (Temecula was a stop on the historic Overland Butterfield Stage Line), citrus and avocado orchards, hot air balloon rides, and several B&B's. But its claim to fame is that it is the largest wine country south of Napa and Sonoma with nearly 50 wineries. With beautiful beaches, mountain resorts, and Baja, Mexico just about an hour in various directions, it's a tourist destination for many.
And yet... I live here. We've recently joined a small wine club but over the past 25 years, I've probably only gone wine tasting in our local wine country three or four times. Similar to the person who has a pool but never swims, it's easy to take for granted that which is always in our experience.
With the days getting longer, we've been enjoying early evening bike rides around our town and the surrounding valley. Last week, as I crested a small rise, a scene straight out of A Walk in the Clouds unfolded with vineyards stretched out before me blanketing small rolling hills sprinkled with wineries and chateaus, horse ranches, and citrus groves. As I slowed to a stop, all around me the vineyards were full of spring growth, wildflowers were blooming and the hillsides were lush and green. As the sun was setting, it struck me that Provence, France could not be prettier than this scene in my very own backyard.
I'll eventually make it to France someday but in the meantime I'll not wish away the beauty of this place, dreaming of somewhere else. If you're living in the past or the future, you're missing the present. If you're dreaming of another place, you're missing the one you're in. So does this mean we should never plan, set goals, or dream? Not at all. In fact, it means when you intend to do so, be there - fully present in that process of planning, creating and dreaming - not wishing you were doing something or being somewhere else. And when you're cycling or working or cooking or whatever fills your day, be there.
This week, notice the parts of your work, the scenery you pass, the smiling faces you encounter and take none of them for granted. There will always be those who wish they enjoyed what we don't even notice. Whether that's rain, desert, snow, beach, mountains, rural, suburban, or metropolitan, working, retired, big house, little condo,... Don't wish away what's wonderful about it all.
In other words, stop and smell the roses... and be sure to taste the wine.